Windy weather on 16th-17th September 1935 was so severe that telephone lines around the county were blown down and in Waltham a young man was sadly killed when he was blown off of his bicycle into the path of a tram. On 29th July 1987, the wet weather sent a deluge that caused Cobbins Brook to rise 6 feet in just half an hour, destroying rape seed crops in surrounding fields. Police in Waltham Abbey, who were patrolling despite the weather, had to make use of dinghies hired from Thames River Police. Cobbins Brook is particularly liable to flooding when the weather is especially wet and it did so, without warning, in November 2000. Broomstick Road was under water and residents were angry that there had been almost no warning.

Waltham Abbey History

Waltham Abbey began as a settlement in pre-Roman times and is, according to local legend, the place where Boudica took her own life by drinking hemlock gathered at Cobbins Brook. The town’s name, however, is taken from the prominent Abbey that was founded as a church to house a wooden cross which was reputed to have miraculous powers, during the reign of King Canute in the early 11th Century. Harold II rebuilt the wooden church with stone prior to the Norman Invasion and was supposedly buried on the site following defeat in Hastings. The miraculous powers of the wooden cross meant that what the Abbey of the Holy Cross became a centre for pilgrimage and the town grew and prospered as a result. The Abbey of Waltham Holy Cross was known to be the richest Abbey in Essex and so when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries as a result of the split from Rome it was dissolved in 1540 with all of its wealth transferring to the crown. The town went into decline as a result of the dissolution and it was not until the 17th century, when a gunpowder factory was opened, that the town of Waltham Abbey prospered once more. Over time the factory grew, as did other light industry in the area. In World War 2, the town was an obvious target for the Luftwaffe and a V2 rocket caused great damage and loss of life when it landed nearby. Whilst the factory was eventually closed in 1943, Waltham Abbey remains a site for explosives research and development and for the Royal Gunpowder Mills still act as a museum and tourist attraction.

Waltham Abbey is reputed to be the last resting place of King Harold II whose body, following defeat in the Battle of Hastings, was supposed to have been buried in the chancel of the Abbey which is now in the grounds of the Abbey Church. The town was also home to John Foxe who wrote the seminal book, Foxes Book of Martyrs. The site of his house is now called Foxes Parade.